Political discussion. The fifth season of Hell’s Kitchen. Caribbean piracy in the latter half of the 1600s. All of these are less cutthroat than the compact crossover marketplace right now. It’s still the hottest segment in the industry and still expanding over 20 years since its dawn. Sensing yet more new competition, Wolfsburg has heeded the call and released the updated 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline.
For 2022, the Tiguan has been refreshed with more expressive headlights that carry familial cues of the ID.4 and Mark 8 Golf. The grille and front bumper are also new, the former is a hexagonal design like that on the Jetta while the latter is inspired more by the Mark 8 Golf. The rear fascia also receives an update with “TIGUAN” in big lettering across the tailgate and the R-Line appearance package featuring some egregiously fake exhaust tips.
It’s worth noting that said R-Line package comes standard on Highline models and is optional on mid-trim Comfortline models. Overall, the updates are largely handsome and add expression to a previously somewhat anonymous shape.
There’s been much hoopla about capacitive touch controls and the ones in the Tiguan are a bit of a mixed bag. The slider on the steering wheel for volume is very convenient and the automatic climate control is largely a set it and forget it proposition but the touch-sensitive buttons for gauge cluster customization are imprecise and the heated seats should really be operable through conventional buttons. That’s not to say that all of the tech has pros and cons. Some of it is simply brilliant.
For instance, the Tiguan’s rear wiper is automatically linked to the front wipers. Taking the learning curve out of the equation adds user-friendliness and promotes good rear visibility in inclement weather. Also excellent is the infotainment. It’s not the latest unit found in the Golf and ID.4 and it’s all the better for it. Wireless Apple CarPlay is fast, flawless and unbelievably reliable while the Qi wireless charging pad actually supplies more juice than most iPhones will use on CarPlay. Android Auto is also on deck, as are traditional volume and tuning knobs that click excellently.
One of the Tiguan’s big plays is sheer room. It’s one of a mere handful of compact crossovers to offer the option of third-row seating. While my test car wasn’t equipped with the optional third row, second row space is top-notch. Adopting a stadium-style form where the second row is slightly elevated, forward visibility for rear passengers is excellent, while an optional separate rear climate control zone and reclining rear seats amp up the comfort factor.
In the front row, things are more of a mixed bag. Overall comfort is good but the driving position could be further optimized with a sliding centre armrest and more adjustability in the steering column. Those who crank their seat height up won’t have any issue but those who prefer a low-slung driving position will find that the steering wheel doesn’t tilt enough. While resting my left elbow on the door armrest and my left hand at 7 o’clock is fine for highway cruising, grasping the steering wheel at the proper position of 9 and 3 feels almost bus-like.
Thankfully, the Tiguan itself drives absolutely nothing like a bus. In fact, it’s one of the sprightlier compact crossovers on the market. While the 184-horsepower two-litre turbocharged direct-injected engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox are carryovers from last year, the powertrain has been re-calibrated for better response. As a result, throttle tip-in is more immediate, shifts are crisper and the peak torque output of 221 lb.-ft. now feels as stout as it should.
While the revisions haven’t exactly transformed the Tiguan into a gazelle, it pulls off the lights with reasonable authority, something the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue can’t quite claim to do. Moreover, the eight-speed gearbox’s programming is inclined to ride the torque curve in merging and overtaking situations, keeping things smooth and refined while delivering more than adequate acceleration.
All-wheel-drive is standard equipment for 2022, a fifth-generation Haldex system that can send torque to the rear wheels on demand. It’s also worth noting that the Tiguan runs on regular 87 octane gasoline which likely explains it having less power up top than other applications of Volkswagen’s EA888 four-cylinder engine. Fuel economy clocked in at 9.8L/100km, bang on with the combined estimate. City and highway economy ratings clock in at 11 and 8.3L/100km respectively. Of course, the enjoyable nature of the 2.0T’s useful grunt will likely offset fuel consumption.
Regarding broader road conditions, the Tiguan responds well. Steering is light and direct. Although not particularly feelsome, it’s plenty accurate to make positioning the Tiguan within a lane exceptionally easy. The turning circle is quite good too, giving the Tiguan the nimbleness for navigating parking garages. Also quite good is the ride quality, taut yet never harsh. In German tradition, soft spring rates are paired with high-quality dampers to provide good road feel without jostling occupants. Overall, it’s a right-sized package that beautifully melds the practicality of a larger mid-size crossover with the nimbleness of a compact.
With more standard equipment including all-wheel-drive coming online for 2022, it’s no surprise that the Tiguan’s price has gone up. The base model now starts at $32,995 which is fairly alright considering it comes with a heated steering wheel, alloy wheels and blind-spot monitoring. The mid-range Comfortline model takes things up to $36,795 but includes dual-zone climate control, a larger digital instrument cluster and keyless entry.
New for 2022 is the Comfortline R-Line Black Edition, a $39,495 model that adds a litany of appearance bits and a panoramic roof. Finally, our Highline test car retails for $42,995 and includes a birds-eye camera system, Fender premium audio, cooled seats and all the trimmings. Third row seating is an $800 option on any trim level. Not the cheapest pricing structure in the world but not the most outrageous either.
The 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline rides better than the RAV4 and doesn’t have the Toyota’s bulky centre console. It also doesn’t run out of puff on the highway like the Honda CR-V does, although the Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5 have it beat on design and materials. The Tucson has the Tiguan beat on toys too, and adds hybrid efficiency on higher trims. It seems then, that by focusing on the overall package and making careful improvements, Volkswagen have created a solid compact crossover with the 2022 Tiguan.